Johnston point keeps Down up
Cork 1-10 Down 0-13
Three late points from Down meant that they earned Division 2 survival at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, the Mourne Men edging out Derry on scoring difference.
When Cork moved 1-10 to 0-10 in front after Paul Kerrigan's point in the 60th minute, a second successive relegation appeared to be the Mourne Men's fate, but points from brothers Ryan and Jerome Johnston, one and two respectively, were enough for survival.
"Cork got a goal towards the end of the first half and gave themselves a bit of breathing space," said Down manager Eamonn Burns, "but we talked at half-time about battling it out and I have to say that we couldn't have asked any more of the team.
"They worked hard and grafted away, closed the lead and closed the lead, and at the end Jerome had a fantastic score. You get to the end and you're waiting on results and fortunately it went for us."
Cork were the better team in a first half where Down were very wasteful in front of goal, running up a tally of nine wides.
With Colm O'Neill on form, Cork led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 18 minutes and though Ryan Johnston replied to that, Ruairí Deane then had a nice Cork goal from Paul Kerrigan's pass.
Down goalkeeper Michael Cunningham had the last score of the half from a free, and they were within a point within ten minutes of the restart, but Cork looked to have made the game safe again with three of their own.
They were reined in, however, and in many ways it was symptomatic of their league as a whole.
"That's not good for your heart!" added Burns.
"It was a frustrating league, to be honest, like our second half today," said the Rebels' manager Peadar Healy.
"We should have done better and got consistent performances."
Scorers - Cork: C O'Neill 0-6 (4f), R Deane 1-1, P Kerrigan 0-2, J O'Rourke 0-1. Down: J Johnston 0-5 (4f, 1 '45), R Johnston, C Mooney 0-2 each, D O'Hanlon (free), S Millar, B O'Hagan, M Cunningham (free) 0-1 each.
CORK - K O'Halloran 7; M Shields 6, Tom Clancy 6, K Crowley 7; C O'Driscoll 6, J Loughrey 6, S Cronin 6; A O'Connor 6, R Deane 8; K O'Driscoll 6, J O'Rourke 7, I Maguire 6; C O'Neill 7, P Kelleher 6, P Kerrigan 7. Subs: A Walsh 6 for O'Connor (h-t), D Óg Hodnett 6 for Kelleher (46), B O'Driscoll 6 for Maguire (48), J O'Sullivan 6 for Clancy (53), J McLoughlin 6 for Shields (57), D O'Connor for O'Rourke (70).
DOWN - M Cunningham 7; D O'Hagan 6, B McArdle 6, R McAnallen 6; D O'Hanlon 7, C McGovern 6, J Flynn 7; C Mooney 8, P Turley 6; K McKernan 6, C Maginn 7, R Johnston 7; B O'Hagan 6, J Johnston 7, S Millar 6. Subs: S Dornan 6 for O'Hagan (46), J Murphy 6 for Flynn (51), M Poland 6 for Maginn (64), A Davidson 6 for Millar (64).
Ref - J Molloy (Galway)